As the G20 summit kicks off in Australia, President Obama reportedly will offer $3 billion to an international climate fund — a move that immediately sparked a backlash from congressional Republicans and energy industry groups.
The commitment was first reported by The Guardian, citing White House officials.
The United Nations Green Climate Fund gets its money from wealthier, more industrialized countries and distributes it to developing countries to help them prepare for the effects of climate change.
The looming announcement comes on the heels of another major deal on climate change engineered by the president. While in Beijing earlier this week, Mr. Obama pledged that the U.S. will cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025.
In return, China — the world’s largest emitter — said it aims to hit peak emissions no later than 2030, and then begin a downward trajectory.
Republicans and energy industry groups lambasted that deal and offered similarly harsh words for Friday’s climate fund news.
“President Obama’s pledge to give unelected bureaucrats at the U.N. $3 billion for climate change initiatives is an unfortunate decision to not listen to voters in this most recent election cycle,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and his party’s ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The President’s climate change agenda has only siphoned precious taxpayer dollars away from the real problems facing the American people. In a new Congress, I will be working with my colleagues to reset the misguided priorities of Washington.”
Environmentalists praised the move and said the U.S., China and other developed nations have a responsibility to lead with their pocket books on the issue of climate change.
“The provision of climate funds is a legal, as well as an ethical, obligation under the UN Climate Convention. The rich countries that caused the climate crisis — the U.S. top among them — must fill the [U.N. climate fund] with funds commensurate with the scale of need. That’s a fundamental first stepping stone on the road to an equitable, science-based global agreement” on climate change, said Karen Orenstein, a senior international policy analyst with Friends of the Earth.